“…time and chance happens to them all.”
I arrived my lodge at Frankfurt Marriott Hotel, at the break of noon after a long day. I was speaking earlier at THE ALLIANCE FOR INTEGRITY’S GLOBAL CONFERENCE in Frankfurt Germany with representation from at least 21 countries including America. It is a one-day conference bringing together stakeholders from different regions, sectors and industries. It was quite engaging for me. I spoke on the topic “the socio-economic impact of corruption”. During the break out session, I had appointment with top government officials from china and Nigeria. I could hardly wait to retire for the day.
I lay on the fussily comfy bed in my immaculate and austere apartment, pleasantly curtained in purple clothe and with luxurious interior design, elegant and modern. The stillness was thorough, I could but hear the throbs of my heartbeat while perceiving the smell of flower scented solitude. I was quite exhausted to switch on the television. I started meditating on how the day went; it was actually pleasant and successful. Almost dozing off, I thought I should check my mails briefly.
Upon opening my mail, BOOM! I was welcomed by a congratulatory message. It reads “BARNES AND NOBEL AWARDS LIST” and then “Congratulations Evelyn Pulle, your book…has been listed for the platinum best seller award”
The beaming duking smile over my face could lit the whole earth. I did not know whether to scream or jump but certainly being calm was not among my options. Wow! I know my book was travelling far and wide but I honestly did not see this award coming. What a rude but pleasant shock!
This got me thinking really. My mind tour the history lane. The small beginnings, the sleepless night seemingly futile but has obviously paid off. On a second thought my mind was opened to other realities. These are the opportunities that opened it arms for me, the people who supported me and the ones that did not stand on my way. Actually it appears that I have gotten this far not only because of my hard work and skill but most importantly; opportunities. Realizing this was humbling. I am only a person with whom life was benevolent with opportunities and Adam’s hand helped me seize same.
I went back to quickly respond to the mail and subsequent mails. Half way through, I dozed off.
I woke up not to the sound of my alarm nor the sound of door bells but the heavy knock on my door and the scream of my name. It was quite confusing. I was wondering how the hotel attendants could call me by name and with such heavy knocks.
So I was forced to open my eyes to attend to my caller only to realize that I was in my small room, enveloped inside my small sized bed in Jos, Nigeria and it was my brother knocking ferociously to collect his phone charger that I had borrowed to use overnight. So neither the award nor lecture was real…SMH. I was heartbroken.
Life presents us with different opportunities at different points. These opportunities are not the same for everyone. These opportunities are hidden advantage that makes us who we are. It just seems like some people are luckier than others; this is both true and false.
We don’t undermine the place of hard work nor denigrate the efforts of accomplished men. They are celebrated because of the opportunities that came through for them and their ability to make sense of it which is commendable.
Motivational speakers are doing great in recent times. The gospel of rising from nothing to something is thriving. But really, we do not rise from nothing. There are hidden advantages released to different persons at different points. These opportunities could otherwise be time, family, cultural legacies, relationships, parentage, demography et al. They could also be situations that allowed you rise, work or learn.
I quote a portion from Malcom Gladwell; Outliers “the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn, it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it is deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapping and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured. We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds. But we do know enough about the sunlight that warmed them, the soil in which they put down the roots, the rabbits and lumber jacks they were lucky to avoid”
While in Law School, a self-acclaimed and renown young lawyer came to speak to us as aspirants to the Nigerian Bar. His slogan was “focus on your focus.” His message centered on his sleepless night, how he reads for 18 hours a day, no friends, no social media handles, television nor sport and how that he understands better when he reads on hungry stomach hence he was eating once a day. Really applauding, such hard work! Another rising from nothing story.
When we cling to that idea, it makes us pompous and self-acclaimed and in fact, frustrate the effort of others trying to rise and denigrate the help and opportunities that came through.
Success is fundamentally a result of an accumulative advantage. Hard work and talent is an ingredient of success. But you dear reader will believe with me that the people known today as successful athletes, artistes or professionals are not the most talented but they merely had opportunities that opened up for them at the right time. You can be talented but someone has to give you the opportunity to be an expert.
This accumulative advantage also includes what seems like a disadvantage but turns out not to be a disadvantage at all. What is sometimes called a setback may in turn be an advantage hence it becomes desirable to an extent.
Put that extra effort, work a little bit harder, burn the mid-night candle, practice and invest those ten thousand hours into what you do. Be daring enough to dream and more than anything else be open to see the opportunities opening for you. I take guts!
I will end with this quote by Malcom Gladwell “what distinguishes our histories is not our extra-ordinary talents but our extra-ordinary opportunities”
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